Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer attempted to scotch rumors that Windows Vista will be the last Windows client operating system, claiming that Microsoft has "plenty more where that came from" at an event to mark the consumer launch of the new operating system and Office 2007 in New York.
Sitting alongside executives from some of Microsoft's most important partners — such as Intel, Hewlett-Packard and Dell — Ballmer said there is plenty of room for innovation on the PC, and Microsoft plans to continue to build upon the user-interface, security and multimedia enhancements in Vista.
"We've got a very long list of stuff our engineers want to do, a long list of stuff all of the companies here want us to do," he said. "There are so many areas where we need innovation."
However, Ballmer was hesitant to talk much about what comes after Vista, dodging a question about if and when customers will see the first service pack for Vista. "We'll put one out if we need to," he said.
Ballmer was his usual boisterous self on the eve of Tuesday's consumer launch of Vista and Office 2007. Still, there was a subdued atmosphere in the room. Five years in the making and plagued by several delays, Vista has been a constant subject of scrutiny for some time, making Tuesday's release an anticlimax.
Though there has been widespread analysis and press coverage claiming that many customers plan to take a wait-and-see approach to adopting Vista, Ballmer was more optimistic. He predicted that Vista would be adopted five-times faster than Windows 95 and twice as fast as Windows XP in the next three months, and called the opportunity for partners to drive value for customers with Vista "huge."
Ballmer noted that he expects most of the units of Vista that ship will be pre-installed on hardware, and that sales of the packaged operating system will be considerably less.
"The bulk of the units will wind up going out with new computers," he said. To emphasise the importance of hardware partners in Vista sales, Ballmer shared the stage with notable executives from its key hardware partners.
Joining him Monday were Kevin Rollins, president and CEO of Dell; Sean Maloney, executive vice president of Intel; Hisatsugu Nonaka, president and CEO of the Personal Computer and Network Co, Toshiba; Hector Ruiz, chairman and CEO of Advanced Micro Devices (AMD); and Todd Bradley, executive vice president, Personal Systems Group, HP.
All of Microsoft's partners naturally came out in support of Vista, but perhaps it was Ruiz who had the most original comment of the day. Citing his own Latino heritage, the AMD executive noted that "Vista is a Spanish word" meaning "view," and congratulated Ballmer on Microsoft's choice of name for its new operating system.
"We’re now into this visualisation age of computing," Ruiz said. "People are ready for a change."